US Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials, but they canceled

US Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials, including Kim Jong Un's sister, during his ...

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 10:35 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 10:35 AM

US Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials, including Kim Jong Un's sister, during his politically charged visit to the Winter Olympics in South Korea earlier this month, his office confirmed on Tuesday.

But the North Koreans pulled out of the meeting before it could happen. Pence's office said they believed the abrupt cancellation was a sign that US attempts to exert pressure on the regime were working.

"North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics," said Nick Ayers, Pence's chief of staff.

President Donald Trump had signed off on the decision to meet, with the caveat that the United States wouldn't back off its stated demand that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear weapons.

The Washington Post first reported the possible meeting.

North Korea sent a 500-strong delegation to the games made up of athletes, cheerleaders, domestic media and high-ranking government officials -- including Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader and head of the country's propaganda department, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state.

Their attendance was the result of diplomatic negotiations earlier this year between Seoul and Pyongyang, the first high-level talks in more than two years.

A close encounter

Pence and his wife were seated just feet away from Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam on February 9 for the Games' opening ceremony.

Pence was due to meet with both of them the next day, but the North Koreans abandoned plans for talks two hours beforehand. The meeting was set to take place at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea's equivalent to the White House, officials confirmed.

The US State Department said that Pence had been ready to "to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs" at the meeting.

"We regret their failure to seize this opportunity. We will not apologize for American values, for calling attention to human rights abuses, or for mourning a young American's unjust death," Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

When he returned to the United States, Pence said that he chose to actively ignore Kim Yo Jong at the Opening Ceremonies because he "didn't believe it was proper for the United States of America to give any countenance or attention in that form to someone who's not merely the sister of the dictator but is the leader of the propaganda effort."

Hints at talks

Ahead of his arrival at the Olympics, Pence hinted at the possibility of a meeting, saying he hadn't ruled out meeting with North Korean officials.

Standing in front of an F-22 fighter jet at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, Pence said Trump "has said he always believes in talking, but I have not requested any meeting. But we'll see what happens."

At that point, plans were not yet finalized for the meeting, though Trump, Pence and other administration officials had agreed in theory to a sit-down with the North Koreans who were attending the Olympics.

Ayers, the vice president's chief of staff, said Pence's meeting with defectors and his decision to host the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died after being detained by the North Koreans, led the North Korean officials attending the games to reconsider the planned meeting.

"North Korea would have strongly preferred the vice president not use the world stage to call attention to those absolute facts or to display our strong alliance with those committed to the maximum pressure campaign. But as we've said from day one about the trip: This administration will stand in the way of Kim's desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics," Ayers said. "Perhaps that's why they walked away from a meeting or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95659

Reported Deaths: 2056
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26960930
Ramsey10911320
Dakota7524126
Anoka6092133
Stearns401024
Washington379955
Scott257433
Olmsted244628
Nobles197116
Blue Earth16996
Wright16327
St. Louis160241
Carver14197
Clay138940
Rice13358
Mower13285
Sherburne115014
Kandiyohi10112
Winona88718
Lyon6954
Waseca6698
Benton5523
Steele5472
Freeborn5424
Nicollet54016
Watonwan5284
Crow Wing51618
Todd4952
Chisago4941
McLeod4882
Le Sueur4674
Otter Tail4414
Beltrami4215
Martin40810
Goodhue3659
Itasca32814
Pine3280
Douglas3102
Polk3054
Isanti2971
Becker2802
Carlton2701
Morrison2492
Dodge2390
Cottonwood2250
Pipestone22510
Chippewa2141
Meeker2022
Wabasha1960
Sibley1923
Brown1912
Yellow Medicine1822
Cass1804
Rock1730
Unassigned17052
Redwood1673
Mille Lacs1643
Murray1642
Renville1518
Jackson1481
Faribault1450
Swift1381
Houston1280
Kanabec1258
Roseau1230
Koochiching1223
Fillmore1200
Pennington1191
Lincoln1110
Hubbard1031
Stevens1031
Pope940
Big Stone820
Aitkin801
Wadena690
Wilkin653
Grant614
Lake590
Lac qui Parle581
Norman540
Marshall521
Mahnomen481
Red Lake451
Traverse310
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods221
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 85533

Reported Deaths: 1305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15872262
Woodbury544764
Johnson512627
Black Hawk448990
Linn4010111
Story344417
Dubuque325741
Scott301128
Dallas278538
Pottawattamie211338
Buena Vista199112
Marshall178434
Sioux16183
Wapello133357
Webster125514
Plymouth114121
Clinton112121
Muscatine110855
Crawford10885
Cerro Gordo105721
Warren9566
Jasper83832
Des Moines7848
Marion7637
Henry7434
Tama71331
Carroll6625
Lee6377
Wright5811
Dickinson5276
Boone5078
Bremer4927
Washington45911
Louisa42915
Mahaska41219
Delaware4023
Floyd3493
Jackson3493
Franklin34818
Winneshiek3356
Clay3264
Lyon3264
Hamilton3223
Benton3101
Winnebago30313
Hardin2991
Poweshiek2958
Buchanan2791
Jones2743
Butler2702
Kossuth2700
Shelby2671
Clarke2653
Emmet26510
Allamakee2616
Clayton2523
Chickasaw2500
Sac2500
Cherokee2492
Cedar2461
Guthrie2456
Fayette2222
Harrison2223
Grundy2203
Madison2192
Iowa2091
Palo Alto2020
Humboldt1903
Mitchell1900
Howard1886
Hancock1842
Calhoun1833
Mills1801
Page1700
Cass1682
Osceola1610
Monroe15911
Pocahontas1592
Lucas1566
Monona1531
Jefferson1381
Appanoose1363
Union1353
Taylor1301
Davis1244
Ida1221
Fremont1180
Van Buren1141
Keokuk1091
Worth1080
Greene1010
Montgomery965
Wayne862
Audubon821
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold502
Adams330
Unassigned170
Rochester
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 57°
Mason City
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 61°
Albert Lea
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 61°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
One Last Mild Day
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events